Posts Tagged ‘peaches’

A Weekend Escape to Niagara Falls, The Good Earth and a Really Nice Hat

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Just catching up after a nice weekend away in Niagara Falls.
Living in Toronto, we’ve been many times and each season has it’s perks. The mist is cool in the summer, the icicles are stunning in the winter, Niagara Parks plants amazing gardens in the Spring.

In Autumn it’s the gorgeous colours in the changing trees and bright bright sunny days. Take that sun combine it with ample mist and you get perfect double rainbows!

Our friend Sarah made Rebecca her hat from a pattern I wore as a child.  The wool is from a wool share (like a wool CSA) from  Stoddart Farms.   It’s the neatest program where you get eco friendly dyed wool from endangered and rare sheep and goats delivered to you every month.  We discovered them at last year’s Royal Winter Fair and it makes an awesome christmas present for the knitters and crocheters in your life.

I love the localness of her little hat and that she looks like a unicorn with the double rainbow.

It was all a little much for little Ms Fancy Hat and her epic nap strike ended in a cloud of mist with a bang. 3 hours! We went for a coffee.

So Niagara Falls is fun but it can be a little over the top.  The gorgeous falls and park are almost lost to the Capital Letters TOURISM!  The separation of the city of Niagara Falls and the surrounding “fruit basket of Ontario” has always been so strange to me. The subdivisions all have names like “Orchard Grove” yet finding a fruit or vegetable on your plate, let alone a local one is next to impossible.  So after a few helpful tweets we escaped to the surrounding wine and orchard country and had a blast. And a proper serving of vegetables.

The Good Earth Food and Wine Company in Beamsville, Ontario was recommended by Eating Niagara as a good place to run around and grab some lunch.  What a perfect suggestion.

We started with some peach orchard cuddles.

Then we had a good run.  She really wanted to pick fruit and couldn’t figure out where it had gone. I guess all that apple picking left an impression.

So she inspected ALL the leaves.

And then did a little dance.

We moved inside for lunch but didn’t get a single photo of our food. It was beautiful but clearly too delicious to photograph.  Ryan and Rebecca shared some duck, I had the best cauliflower soup I’ve ever tasted.  The salad had carrot spirals that went on for miles.  The wine was delicious.  The atmosphere was friendly and charming.  The two year was welcomed with a taste of local honey from neighbours Rosewood Estates and peach preserves.  We couldn’t have asked for anything more lovely.

After lunch we poked around.

There was lots of fun food and fork related art.

Ryan is inspired and determined that some day we’ll have a whole building to cook in.  This has got to be the most perfect set up for group canning projects or pressing cider.

Their kitchen side herb gardens are still going strong and Rebecca got into the grapes.

Rebecca spent about an hour looking cute in her new barrette from paperdollaccessories while admiring and eating grapes off the vine before moving on to the pumpkins.

We picked out some wine, honey and jam to bring home and enjoyed the drive back on the back roads stopping for our groceries from road side farms stands.

Amazing. Rebecca even had another nap.

Smashed BBQ Peach Jam

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
When life hands you smashed up peaches and all your burners are in use for canning, its time to make Peach – vanilla – honey jam on the BBQ.
As mentioned in last week’s post about our peach canning odyssey, I am never ever peeling another peach.
All pealing peaches does is take perfect lovely wonderful peaches like these…
 and waste your time blanching, plunging…
only to end up having them go to total smashed up mush when you go to cut them.
It was so terribly sad that I’ll show you this lovely picture of pre-smashed peeled peaches as I did not take one of the carnage.
I do pretty much all of our cooking out on the deck in the warmer months.  Our kitchen is small and the deck has much better light.  It also has the Barbecue.
Which is nice when you have a bunch of rapidly browning peaches, a full freezer, and no free burner on the stove as you are in the middle of canning a @#&*^@#! bushel of peaches.
The main danger of bbqed jam is that the wasps go crazy. As you can see I left the peaches pretty chunky.
Peaches are pretty high in pectin and set into jam quite nicely without adding very much extra sugar. Almost all  fruit is also considered high acid so you don’t need to be all that careful with your recipe like some other things (like tomatoes, or green beans).  

I simply added a little lemon juice to prevent browning and keep that acid level high, a teaspoon of vanilla, a cup of honey and a cup of organic white sugar, which was really an accident as I forgot we still had some of this wonderful honey. The ratio was around 25% sugar/honey and 75% fruit.  

I had been taught that jam needed to be 40% sugar-60% fruit but recently found out from a canning class at the local Mennonite Church that wasn’t true.  As long as it’s high acid fruit and there’s enough naturally occurring pectin, the amount of sugar is purely dependant on taste.
Volia! A near disaster prevented! Delicious jam, slow cooked outside for the neighbours to smell. 
Some final notes: It took about an hour to set, then I jared it up and put in the already going waterbath for ten minutes.

How to Can a Bushel of Peaches in 7 hours with Some Swearing, a New Pot and 29 Jars

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

As mentioned in last week’s peach lemonade post and in our #canning play by play on twitter, we spent most of last Tuesday turning 1 bushel of gorgeous, perfect, marvellous Red Haven Ontario peaches from BizjakFarms into 29 jars of assorted canning goodness.  

I feel like this post is a little late as once I actually got a bushel of peaches into jars I was sort of done with the whole thing for a few days. There was some swearing and lessons learned but I think I’m ready to share now.

First things First, we went to the Leslieville Farmer’s Market to eat croissants and the last of our Monteforte CSA cheese curds.  I then moved on to driving the poor peach guys crazy with distracting chit chat and placed an order for a bushel of freestones (lessons from Well Preserved on this one) to be picked up the following week. I think half of twitter was at the market that day.

The next week rolled around. We went back, obtained a ridiculous amount of peaches, fed some to the babies, let everybody take some photos and then got  Ryan and Andrew to carry them to the car while I went & got more cheese curds.

So after eating a dozen and taking about 2000 photos it was time to get cracking. Or smashing as its now known. 

Growing up, canning peaches was one of the few “old fashioned” canning activities my mother did. In fact she has 4 pages of scribbly notes about it which is the 1980’s equivalent to blogging.  I bet there are photos too. I have fond memories of eating these and admiring them in their jars.

Our objective was to can peaches to eat all winter. It’s my seasonal depression defence strategy. Let me tell you, when you bite into a Niagara Peach in the middle of February life is good.

Really it’s simple and once we got going things moved smoothly. 
Start by preparing all your jars; we did this the night before. Dallas has a good run down of safe canning practices on her post about her easy-peasy co-opertive peaches.  We used 2 dozen 1 litre wide mouth Jars.



Next make up a light syrup of 
1 part sugar to 2 parts water.  We used the organic stuff in a carton so it has a darker colour which really looks nice with peaches.  I think we used 4 cartons, something like 16 cups of sugar by the end of the day. We made a big pot on fairly low heat and kept adding to it as needed. Just keep to the ratio and you’re fine. 

You want to wash your peaches really well.  These were low spray peaches as organic are really hard to find especially in bulk. You want to wash off the fuzz and the pesticides. Peaches are always up there on the dirty dozen.


Peel (we’ll get back to this)
Cut (we did some halves and some quarters)
As you cut the peaches, sprinkle lemon juice on them to prevent browning.
We processed for 25 minutes but processing times will depend on where you live and the size of your jars.

Blanching and Peeling was a total disaster, greatly reducing the yield and quickly raising the panic level. These perfect lovely peaches were crumbling in my hands.

2 large baskets were reduced to 7 litres of uglyfrustrating peaches.  We quickly movedon to not blanching or peeling, leaving some in halves, some in quarters and had great results.  I will never ever peel another peach and haven’t a clue why all the instructions and recipes I looked at were all peeling peaches.  What a mess.

Our other near-disaster was not having a large enough pot. I have canned many things but never used the giant jars before; so there I was, with hot peaches in hot jars and Ryan running out to buy a bigger pot.  I love my new giant pot.

All in all, we have some lovely peaches and learnt some valuable lessons; always make sure you have a big enough pot (this is a lesson is optimism perhaps?) and never-ever-no-way-no-how bother with blanching or peeling your peaches; especially when there are approximately 120 of them.

PS these were the last 4 peach halves and we were out of jars so this is 1 peach in one jar.  I think they’re for lunch.

Peach Lemonade For Alanna {or When Peaches & Lemons Combine}

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
So we spent 7 hours on Tuesday turning 1 bushel of gorgeous, perfect, marvellous Red Haven Ontario peaches from Bizjak Farms into 29 jars of pure canning goodness.  
Then the thirst struck, quickly followed by one of those brief moments of genius, pure peach genius.
What you want to do is take Monday’s Real Lemon Lemonade but instead of using the simple syrup,
USE THE LEFTOVER PEACHY SYRUP!  Yes I’m yelling. Take the syrup that has had lovely sliced Ontario peaches soaking in it all day and make lemonade; Peach Lemonade. You know that syrup that’s left over in the bottom of the pan.  You’ll thank me. Once again, it’s even better out of a jar.
If this is as exciting to you as it is to me you’ll need to read how Well Preserved cleans their jam jars.  I highly recommend it.

PS Alanna, I’m bringing this to your house tonight. Also we are up too late and  have had waaaay to much sugar.